Gloucester's City Council has approved a new $86.4 million budget for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, signing off on a spending plan that carries a 3 percent increase over this fiscal year that ends June 30.
Councilors voted through each part of the fiscal 2013 budget set out by the Budget and Finance Subcommittee with little disagreement — except in the salary line in Mayor Carolyn Kirk's office.
Three city councilors took issue with a 13 percent raise for Chief Administrative Office Jim Duggan, and councilor Bruce Tobey moved to reduce the salary line item to a level that would have set that raise at just over 8 percent. But Tobey's amendment failed, and the salary line stood.
The approved budget provides more funding for the Gloucester Public School district as well, and increases funding for firefighter overtime by $89,000 after the Budget and Finance Subcommittee added those funds to the ambulance revenue budget.
The city brings in $91 million for Fiscal 2013. But, that includes a $1.76 million debt shift for the Combined Sewer Overflow debt, $2.26 million for the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School, and $600,000 in one time funding injected into the budget from free cash.
For all the budget debate and issues, the mayor's push for administrators's pay hikes drew fire from some councilors.
"Now is not the time to give out double-digit raises," said Councilor Greg Verga, especially when, in past years, the city has put pressure on rank-and-file employees.
"We continue to go after the lesser paid people and nickle and dime them," Verga said. "But we seem to be on the path of giving rewards to management for fear of losing them to other areas. At some point we have to say 'leave.'"
Verga, Councilor Bob Whynott and Tobey voted for Tobey's amendment. but Councilors Joe Ciolino, Jackie Hardy, Melissa Cox, Steve LeBlanc, Sefatia Romeo-Theken and Paul McGeary all voted against it, keeping the salary increases in place.
When the council approved the raising the pay scales of the city's upper management, said McGeary, the Budget and Finance Subcommittee chairman, councilors did so to put management pay on par with surrounding communities. At the end of the day, he added, that's what was approved.
Management, he said, hadn't received a substantive raise in the past ten years. The salary lines approved last night, McGeary added, place them on level with city employees who have received smaller raises over the same time period.
"A 10, 15, 20 percent raise isn't out of whack if it's a catch-up raise," McGeary said.
Duggan wasn't the only city employee that received a raise in the approved budget either. Most of those raises, said City Councilor Melissa Cox, were brought down to the single digit level, after the budget and finance subcommittee hashed them out with Mayor Carolyn Kirk's office. Kirk could not be reached for comment on this story.
The administration did that, McGeary said, by having managers forgo a 2 percent cost of living increase and a 1 1/2 percent step raise that they would have received in the coming year, on top of the reclassification. In January of last year, the managers received a 2 percent cost of living increase as well, the raises start from there.
The budget approved a 9 percent hike in the salary of City Solicitor Suzanne Egan, who would see her salary increase from $92,365 to $100,394. It increased the vacant community development director's salary by 2.4 percent to $86,892. The city will hire a community development director in January, said McGeary. At the moment Planning Director Gregg Cademartori is serving as the acting community development director.
Duggan's salary rose from $85,797 to $101,892. The budget also raised Building Inspector Bill Sanborn's salary, bringing it up to $79,974 from $68,000, Health Director Noreen Burke's salary, from $76,900 to $82,136.
Library Director Carol Gray's salary will rise from $71,574 to $77,574, Purchasing Agent Donna Compton's salary will rise from $68,000 to $74,194, Harbormaster Jim Caulkett's salary will rise from $60,400 to $72,039, City Clerk Linda Lowe's salary will rise from $76,989 to $79,722.
The city's next Personnel Director will come in at $82,028, following Personnel Director David Bain's retirement last month. City Auditor Ken Costa salary will rise from $86,892 to $94,358, DPW Director Mike Hale's salary will rise from $118,572 to 120,947, and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Towne's salary will rise from $109,674 to $113,894.
All in all, the managers salaries go up an average of 13 percent.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.